Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Beatitude Series #13: Persecution

In Matthew 5:10-12 and Luke 6:22-23 Jesus speaks about the blessings of being persecuted for righteousness sake. This persecution includes hatred, rejection, mockery, reproach, being lied about and having evil things said about us. Jesus warned his followers in John 15:18-23 that they would be despised and hated because of their relationship with Him. He was basically warning us that this is our lot in life if we identify ourselves with Him.

Reasons for persecution

Peter warns us in I Peter 4:14-16 that we are not to do foolish, wicked things. He warned that the persecution we receive for our foolishness is not blessed; only the persecution we endure for Christ’s sake. There are many worthwhile and good causes to which we can devote our time and money; but no cause is worth persecution or martyrdom except the cause of Christ.

Most people do not experience persecution by simply being good or noble or sacrificial. In fact, such people are usually well-spoken of and honored. Only the cause of Christ brings hatred and persecution. Jesus said, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.” Jesus is not talking about self-righteous. He’s talking about true righteousness that comes through faith in Christ alone. He’s talking about the righteousness of Christ that is imputed to us through faith. He’s talking about Christ’s righteousness that is imparted to us through the indwelling Holy Spirit. People who are simply nice do not experience persecution; but Christians whose only glory and message is Christ alone, will certainly experience persecution. You see, the natural man is offended when he is told he has no righteousness and that he is a sinner and in need of Christ’s righteousness. When confronted by this message, he either receives it and is born again or he becomes incensed and angry with Christ and with the messenger who brought him the message Paul reminds us in II Timothy 3:12 “Yes, ALL that live godly in Christ Jesus SHALL suffer persecution.”

Examples of persecution

Persecution has been the lot of God’s people from the beginning of time. Abel was murdered by his brother because of the quality of his life and his love for God. I John 3:12-15.

David was hunted down as an animal by King Saul, a man who should have appreciated David as one of the best friends he had. I Samuel 18 and in the chapters that follow describe the intense hatred of Saul for David. Saul’s hatred reached the point of insanity.

In Daniel 6 we read of the hatred and jealousy of the princes of Persia for Daniel because of his flawless life. Daniel had been appointed to a very high office by Darius. The princes talked Darius into changing laws concerning prayer and so caught Daniel in the “crime” of praying. For that he was cast to the lions, but God spared him. Read the story. It’s amazing!

In the New Testament are a number of stories of persecution for Christ’s sake. One outstanding story is found in John 9. Read the story and see how intensely the enemies of Jesus hated Him. Then note how this hatred was transferred to a blind man to whom Jesus had given sight.

No one who reads the accounts of Christ’s crucifixion at the end of each of the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, can miss the hatred of men towards Jesus. There we read the awful accounts of the most intense hatred humans could express toward another. The whole world was guilty of the crucifixion of Christ. I was just as guilty as the Roman soldiers and the Jewish leaders. It was my sins and your sins that caused Jesus to willingly go to the cross and offer His life for our sins. No one took Jesus life from Him. He willingly laid it down of His own will. John 10:17-18.

Persecution is part of being a Christian. We not only believe in Christ and receive Him as our Saviour and Lord, but we also experience degrees of persecution as we stand publicly for Him in this Christ-hating world. Philippians 1:29

The blessings of being persecuted for Christ

Is persecution for Christ worth it? It certainly is. Look again at those passages from the Beatitudes. Matthew 5:10-12 and Luke 6:22-23. Rather than mourn and feel sorry for ourselves, we are to rejoice and leap for joy when we are privileged to suffer for Christ. Why should we rejoice?

1. “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church” Exodus 1:12 tells us of Israel’s persecution down in Egypt. Exodus 1:12 As Israel grew when they were persecuted so in places where people are suffering and dying for Christ, the Church is growing rapidly.

2. Persecution teaches us patience. Romans 5:3

3. Persecution brings us to maturity. I Peter 5:10

4. Persecution draws us to a closer fellowship with Christ. Philippians 3:10

5. Persecution for Christ brings glory to God. I Peter 4:12-19

6. Persecution for Christ brings future glory for us. Romans 8:17-18 II Timothy 2:12

The choice we must Make

Living for Christ and enduring suffering for His sake is a choice each of us must make. Those who make the right choice and live and suffer for Christ will be rewarded. Hebrews 11:24-27 13:12-15 Those who choose to try to be secret followers of Christ, will one day be ashamed. Mark 8:34-38 and Luke 9:26

How shall we treat those who persecute us?

Love them, do good to them and pray for them. Romans 12:14, 12:17-21 Where do you stand? Are you an enemy of Christ and those who belong to Him or are you a Christian who is not ashamed to be known as a Christian, no matter what the cost?

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March 2, 2006 - Posted by | Beatitudes Series

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